Transcriptomic profiling of adaptive responses to ocean acidification

Some populations of marine organisms appear to have inherent tolerance or the capacity for acclimation to stressful environmental conditions, including those associated with climate change. Sydney rock oysters from the B2 breeding line exhibit resilience to ocean acidification (OA) at the physiological level. To understand the molecular basis of this physiological resilience, we analysed the gill transcriptome of B2 oysters that had been exposed to near-future projected ocean pH over two consecutive generations. Our results suggest that the distinctive performance of B2 oysters in the face of OA is mediated by the selective expression of genes involved in multiple cellular processes. Subsequent high-throughput qPCR revealed that some of these transcriptional changes are exclusive to B2 oysters and so may be associated with their resilience to OA. The intracellular processes mediated by the differentially abundant genes primarily involve control of the cell cycle and maintenance of cellular homeostasis. These changes may enable B2 oysters to prevent apoptosis resulting from oxidative damage or to alleviate the effects of apoptosis through regulation of the cell cycle. Comparative analysis of the OA conditioning effects across sequential generations supported the contention that B2 and wild-type oysters have different trajectories of changing gene expression and responding to OA. Our findings reveal the broad set of molecular processes underlying transgenerational conditioning and potential resilience to OA in a marine calcifier. Identifying the mechanisms of stress resilience can uncover the intracellular basis for these organisms to survive and thrive in a rapidly changing ocean.

Goncalves P., Jones D. B., Thompson E. L., Parker L. M., Ross P. M. & Raftos D. A., 2017. Transcriptomic profiling of adaptive responses to ocean acidification. Molecular Ecology 26 (21): 5974-5988. Article (subscription required).

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